Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Brown Rice Scrambowl with Cashew Yogurt Sauce

This recipe was inspired by a beautiful California Barley Bowl over at 101 Cookbooks. I wanted a vegan, gluten free version, so here's what I came up with. We had it for breakfast the other day, and love, love, loved it! Cooked like a scramble, served like a bowl - it's a scrambowl.

Brown Rice Scrambowl
serves 2-4

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 block extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
2 cups fresh chopped spinach
2 T tamari
1 avocado, sliced

Over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet until they start to brown and pop.

Add the rice, tofu, and mushrooms. Stir gently and cook to heat through for about 5 minutes. Add a little water if it sticks.
Add the spinach a little at a time, and stir gently to wilt it in.
Add the tamari. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Serve topped with sliced avocado and Cashew Yogurt Sauce

Cashew Yogurt Sauce
makes about 1 cup

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 20 minutes or longer
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 T dry basil
2 T  nutritional yeast
1/2-1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp yellow miso paste
1 T apple cider vinegar (or white)
1/2 cup water

Drain and rinse the cashews, and place in a food processor with all other ingredients, except water. Blend on high speed, adding the water gradually, until smooth.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Feeling the (Cafe) Gratitude in Santa Cruz

I'm on a short visit to San Jose, CA, where I grew up. No trip back home is complete without a day (or more) in Santa Cruz, where I spent a lot of time as a kid. Honestly, I don't know why I've never just moved to Santa Cruz, or somewhere in the general area. I absolutely love it there. And after my trip "over the hill" the other day with my darling niece, Kelsey, I love it even more.

We spent some time on the beach of course, on a perfect almost-spring day that had us dipping our toes in the surf and wishing the roller coaster was open for the season.

But we were also on a mission. We were there to have lunch at the famously fabulous Cafe Gratitude, once located in San Francisco, and now operating in a relaxed and lovely spot in Santa Cruz, as well as three other locations. We found free 3-hour parking in the lot across the street, and then were greeted with a smile and menus at the restaurant, and asked to sit wherever we liked. We settled in, but then decided to move closer to the window after a few minutes, and nobody minded a bit. Going over the menu took some time. I'm not used to being able to choose from everything on a menu. What a treat. All vegan, some raw, and all enticing. I finally asked our server what he would suggest. He gave it great consideration, and finally came to the "I Am Whole" bowl because it's something repeat customers order often, and because it's really pretty, which I requested.

Everything on the menu starts with "I Am..." followed by words like Thriving, Vibrant, Transformed, and so on. Instead of asking us what we wanted to eat, the server actually asked what we would like to be. "Whole" suited me, and Kelsey ordered the "I Am Extraordinary," a maple coconut-bacon BLT with avocado. We also had "I Am Effervescent" ginger-lemon-sparkly drinks, which made us both smile as we savored each sip.

The food was perfect. Fresh, beautifully prepared and presented, and bursting with flavor and energy. My bowl, which had brown rice and millet, kale, kimchee, carrots, sunflower sprouts, sea vegetables, teriyaki almonds with garlic-tahini sauce was so good (and so big) Kelsey kept dipping across the table to help me with it. I'm a bowl girl, and this one was pure delight.

I had a couple of bites of Kelsey's sandwich too, and it was another winner. That coconut-bacon... oh wow! I really need the recipe.

And then there was dessert, which we really didn't need, but certainly wanted. We were on a mission after all. So we went for the lemon pie as well as the chocolate chai cheesecake with house-made ice cream. After one bite I just wanted to take it all in a corner and be alone with it. Sweet Heaven on a plate.

Thank you Cafe Gratitude. I Am Grateful for your very existence. And as we walked back out into the Santa Cruz sunshine, I looked at Kelsey and said, I Am Happy.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Using What's There - Polenta and Broccoli

Revisiting the "using what's there" theme, this is a simple little dish that makes a terrific lunch or dinner. Make it even quicker by skipping the baking of the polenta, which isn't necessary for the cooking, but adds a nice crunchy texture.

To make Polenta and Broccoli, start with 1 cup of dry polenta, 3 cups water, 2 T dry herbs, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast. Whisk everything together in a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook stirring for 4-5 minutes. Turn the heat off, cover, and let it rest for 5 minutes, then pour the polenta into an oiled bread pan. Let it cool long enough to be able to turn it onto a board. Slice it and serve it warm, or place the slices on a baking pan, spray with a little olive oil, and bake for about 30 minutes at 450ยบ if you like it crunchy on the outside. I do!

While the polenta is cooling or baking, steam a bunch of broccoli, cut into florets, and heat a small jar of spaghetti sauce. To serve, place the broccoli over the polenta and top with sauce. Garnish with a little bit of Daiya or other vegan cheese, and/or a few shakes of Magic Sprinkles.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wine and Herb Cheese Spread

This is another take on my favorite cashew cheese. While I love some of the fancy vegan cheese recipes people are coming up with, I usually don't want to spend days making them. This simple version goes together almost instantly, and tastes great on everything from crackers to pizza.

Wine and Herb Cheese Spread
makes about 1 cup

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water about 20 minutes
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2-1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dry mustard
2 T herbs de provence
1 T chia seeds
1 T yellow miso paste
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup water

Drain and rinse the cashews, and place in a food processor with all other ingredients, except water. Blend on high speed, adding the water gradually, until smooth.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Goodness From Hampton Creek Foods

The nice folks at Hampton Creek Foods are up to some good work, and coming up with some amazing products. Their mission is to find ways of replacing eggs with plant based versions that are not just healthy for humans (zero cholesterol!), but also for chickens (no factory farming!), and the planet (chickens need huge amounts of water and food, and produce vast quantities of greenhouse gases.) Vegans are falling in love with Hampton Creek Foods, but surely non-vegans can see the wisdom (and taste the joy) in healthy, delicious plant-based delights like their two kick-off products - Just Mayo, and Eat The Dough.

Lucky me, I got to try both products, and you know what? If I can invest in this company, I'm going to! Hampton Creek Foods is one of the leaders in the newly emerging eco-animal-health-conscious  food industry, and I love what they're about.

I made a simple tofu eggless salad for lunch, to give the Just Mayo room to show off its stuff. It's delicious! I've shared my recipe here before, but basically, just press some extra firm tofu, crumble it into a bowl, and mix in everything you'd use in a "regular" egg salad. The Just Mayo added a creamy, dreamy flavor and richness that had Rick calling it his favorite vegan mayo ever! And my new hint when you want something to taste really eggy is to add a pinch of black salt, which is sometimes actually pink, and has a high sulphur content (and smell) that's oh so reminiscent of hard boiled eggs. This is my delicious eggless salad lunch. And yes, I will share the recipe for Sprouted Seed Crackers. Soon!

And for dessert... yes please... Eat The Dough. Because you can. No eggs, remember? 

I'm not sure how this comes in the market, but the sample cup I got came with a little spoon in the lid. Cool idea. And this cookie dough tastes exactly like any other awesome chocolate chip cookie dough, but without the salmonella. Much tastier, in my opinion.

After savoring a bite with the spoon, I baked the rest. Because you can. Warm from the oven they tasted just like "real" chocolate chip cookies - because that are. Thank you Hampton Creek Foods! I'm your new biggest fan!

I'm not sure if the cookie dough is available in stores yet, but Just Mayo can be found at Whole Foods. Enjoy, in joy!

Update - from my friend at HCF, "The cookie dough isn't in stores yet, but it will be in a few months. I can't wait! The sample I sent you, with the built-in spoon, will be similar to what ends up being the 'snack size', but of course you'll be able to buy it in a lot of other sizes, too!" I'll be watching for it!